By Melody Winter
It was my name.
It was the only name I had ever been called.
I braced myself for the inevitable when I heard the sound of the broom slicing through the air. The blow came as hard as expected, stinging my back, and knocking the air from my lungs. A strangled cry escaped me as I fell to the floor. Pain spread outwards, seeping through my limbs.
“You stupid girl! You’ve broken the brush now!” My father’s words flew at me, causing more damage than the broom ever could.
Turning slowly, I reached for the broom head that had fallen to the floor. My fingers curled around its spiky bristles, digging into my skin.
“You throw that at me, and it’ll be the last thing you do!” he yelled.
Crouching, prepared to defend myself from a further attack, I hissed at him.
He scowled. “You’re weak, pathetic, useless. No one cares about you. You should have died as soon as you were born, if not before. At least your mother would still be here. You’re the reason she’s dead!”
My fingers uncurled from around the weapon in my hand as my father marched away. Hearing the door lock I allowed myself to believe that my ordeal was over– for now. But, I knew he could return at any time.
I curled into a ball, crying silently.
He was right – I had killed my mother.
As a young child I had always tried to please my father, but always failed. At the age of five I had been locked in an upstairs room, the windows boarded with wide planks of wood, to keep me hidden from everything and everyone.
It was then that Darkness introduced himself.
The only time Darkness disappeared was when the narrow slats between the wood at the windows allowed shards of sunlight to penetrate the room. But, on my tenth birthday, I was dragged from the room and thrown down hard concrete steps that led to the cellar. The sun never appeared there.
I gave up trying to please my father the day he locked me in the cellar. From that day on, Darkness was my constant friend, as was a calm, male voice that offered support when I so desperately needed it. But, their words and comfort were often pushed aside by Pain, who visited more often than I wished for. They were my only companions. And, after each of my father’s beatings the calming voice spoke to me, Darkness came to comfort me, and Pain reminded me that I was still alive.
Clothes that I had long grown out of stretched over my pale bruised skin. When I lifted my hands to my face, I felt hollow cheeks and distinct deep set eyes. Touching my hair, it hung loose in parts, tangled and knotted in others. The strands that were not matted fell in greasy long clumps around my thin face and across my sharp collarbone. Narrow wrists, breakable arms, scabbed knees, blistered feet. I was a mess.
I was Ugly.